Football: Bill Ng declares he is willing to open Tiong Bahru's books to government agencies

Tiong Bahru FC chairman Bill Ng has declared that he is willing to open his club's books.
Tiong Bahru FC chairman Bill Ng has declared that he is willing to open his club's books. PHOTO COURTESY OF BILL NG

SINGAPORE - Tiong Bahru FC chairman Bill Ng has declared that he is willing to open his club's books in light of a Straits Times report on Thursday (April 20) which stated that the National Football League (NFL) outfit's gross income for the financial year that ended in March last year was $36.8 million.

That amount eclipses the Football Association of Singapore (FAS)'s budget of $35.8 million for the same period.

Going back to FY 2010/2011, TBFC notched annual income figures ranging from $11 million to $36 million.

In a statement sent to ST early Thursday morning, Ng, who is also chairman of S-League club Hougang United, said: "Approximately 80 per cent to 85 per cent is returned to the player (RTP), or paid to winners who play the jackpot machines.

"Normally, after payouts and taxes, the club only has about 7 per cent of gross margins as surplus left for its operations costs.

 
 
 

"Tiong Bahru FC would like to offer its accounting records for inspection by SportSG (national agency Sport Singapore) or any government agency if necessary.

"Should SportSG or any other government agency like to view these records, please contact us and we will arrange for it to be carried out."

TBFC's expenses were of a similar magnitude, resulting in profits of between $140,000 and $700,000 for each of the seven years, going by Tiong Bahru's annual returns, filed with the Registry of Societies. No breakdown of the expenses were available.

In FY 2009/2010, the club made $2.6 million but ended the year with a deficit of $19,000. In comparison, Tampines Rovers from the top-tier S-League, a recognised local football powerhouse, had an income of $3.6 million in the FY 2013/2014.

Ng, a 57-year-old corporate rescue specialist, is leading a slate called the Game Changers to contest the Football Association of Singapore election.

Facing him is a side called Team LKT led by lawyer and former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong. The election will be held at the Sports Hub next Saturday.

Although Tiong Bahru's income numbers have not been made public before, Ng has made no secret of its winning formula - jackpot machines.

 

Tiong Bahru, which boasts almost 19,000 members, has a clubhouse at the basement of People's Park Centre, where it has 29 jackpot machines.

In previous interviews, Mr Ng has maintained that without the jackpot operations, the S-League would have folded long ago because depending on FAS subsidies was not the long-term solution.

He is similarly credited with turning struggling Hougang into a profitable side, with returns from its jackpot operations.

The Cheetahs are the only S-League club that operate without the $800,000 annual subsidy from the Tote Board. In 2014, the club registered a profit in excess of $2 million, and they have gone further to set up a $1 million scholarship fund for young footballers.